I have done so much research and keep hearing that the mixture of clay a sculptor uses depends on, well, the sculptor. I have taken this to heart and after spending a lot of money and a lot of time I still can't find what mixture to use.
My first attempt at a sculpt, I bought a block of Fimo Soft. So far it's actually been the best but does not work with fine details (noses, lips) etc. I guess it's too soft? So, I bought a big block of Sculpey III. Wow, totally mushes in my hand just when I'm cradling the head making the finished product look like an alien. Then after a little more research I bought Fimo Puppen and Fimo Classic to mix. I even bought a food processor to mix these two with. The mixture is WAY too hard and not malleable enough.
Finally, I ripped the clay from my armature and tried a mixture of Fimo Puppen and something soft--Sculpey III. And now every time I make even the slightest indentation it shows up glaringly on my character's face. What am I missing here? I've spend so much money on clay and am totally broke at this point and still can't even *begin* my first sculpt! I keep researching and people simply state that it sculptors use a variety of things so why is anything I choose failing??
Mixture of Puppen Fimo and Sculpey III--see the obvious indentations?:
Different materials suits different purposes and workflows. Everyone has their preference.
Where did you do your research though? Speaking of sculpey, didn't anyone recommend SuperSculpey or SuperScylpey Firm? That's stuff is superb and is usable right of the box.
Hi Dernhelm, Welcome to conceptart. I have only been sculpting for a few years so I won't be as much help as some of the people on this forum, but from my own personal experience it is (and I know this will sound frustrating) a matter of personal preference. However at such an early stage in learning to sculpt I wouldn't worry too much about your creations being spot on perfect as it's not just about the material or the tools you use, it's also about you yourself getting a feel for how you sculpt. The best thing you can do is experiment a bit with the material get a feel for it and have a bit of fun making simple forms and marks with your tools. lumps and bumps can be smoothed out at a later point getting the basic details down first and then building up is something I have always found useful. Remember that most clays are designed to be very malleable and as such do require quite a gentle touch when handling.
On the topic of clay mixing, what ratios have you been mixing your clays to? If the mixture of puppen and classic was too solid did you try changing the ratio so it was slightly softer?
Personally I always use either super sculpey, super sculpey firm or a mix of the two but to be honest I learnt to sculpt in really cheap potter's clay and it gave me a feel for how to manipulate the material without costing a fortune.
Hope this helps and good luck, can't wait to see what you come up with.
Someday I wanna be as good as Andy Bergholtz.
I have been mixing pretty much 50/50 in all my mixtures. Last night when I was just about at my wit's end, I just grabbed a little ball of Puppen Fimo and a ball of Sculpey III and rubbed them together until I thought I "feel" a good consistency but the product was not very good as you can tell from the picture. Even my fingerprints rub off onto the clay. I did not think about mixing something soft in with the Puppen and Classic mix. When it came out too hard I looked online and a lot of people recommended Mix Quick to soften the clay and I didn't want to spend any more money than I already have (after buying tools, food processor, clay, wire, etc) so I just tried to concoct something out of what I had--didn't work!
I have had two recommendations of Super Sculpey and was debating buying some Mix Quick to soften my "mixtures" or buying Super Sculpey. I think I will get some Super Sculpey since it seems many people use it out of the box and I will work from there no matter how unworkable it seems. Maybe it's me that's the problem...not the clay lol. Thank you everyone for your help.
Super Sculpey seems to be what most people around here uses although ZBrush seems to be taking over lately. The varied recommendations probably result for people using different materials for different purposes, if you go to a forum where most people make jewellery or simple figurines they're probably going to recommend Fimo or Premo Sculpey but if you want to make a highly detailed dragon that's probably not going to work too well.
You might be able to still make use of the clay you already have that is too soft by leaching some of the plasticiser out of it, roll it flat and sandwich it between two blank pieces of paper and put something heavy on top and leave it over night, the paper will absorb some of the plasticiser making the clay firmer, if it's still to soft just do it again until it firm enough.
Sometimes you have to accept the limitations of the medium you're working with. When it comes to clays that can be baked you're always going to have to trade one thing for the other, malleability versus fine detail. Super Scupley is pretty horrible for detail work because it's squishy and rubbery. Firm sculpey is reasonable to work with (provided it's a fresh box and not stale) and doesn't deform as horribly when holding it but really the key is to not work on it while holding it. Looks like your sculpt isn't mounted at all to a base or something so you're having to hold it as you work. Every time you work on one side you're going to be destroying the other with the pressure and warmth of your hand. So try mounting your armature to something so you can work on it without holding it, that's been a big help for me.
As for the indentations and stuff, it's near impossible to get a smooth clean form in the sculpting stage with sculpey and similair products. No matter how much you work at it there will always be slight tool marks and bumps. The solution is after baking it using a fine wet/dry sandpaper to smooth it out. Or you can even scrape with an exacto knife to knock out a brunt of the work and then finish it with the fine sandpaper.
Oh, if you don't have the resources to mount your sculpt one method I've used as a work around to that is to bake my sculpt in stages. I would work on one side, getting a base roughed out, bake it all, and then I could hold it from that roughed out side while I built up and sculpted the other side. Very tedious and a bit scary because you have to commit to something but it is a viable solution to working with an unmounted sculpt. I can write up a better explanation of the process if you're interested.
When you get more money maybe look into cx5 by Andrew Beane. I don't have any experience with it but it might be a good solution to the problems you're having because it's a very very hard material so it can hold detail exceptionally well but when you heat it up it's super malleable so you can build your forms and rough out your sculpt. No baking, its cooled down form is hard enough that you can sand it and then paint it. Or try Chavant, it's a super firm plasticene (NO BAKING) that you warm up to work with and then when it cool you can get a great level of detail. Since you can't bake it if you want a finished product to paint, you'd have to make a cast.
Last edited by Eckihm; January 27th, 2013 at 02:03 AM. Reason: put can't instead of can
I add colored premo or fimo to supersculpey, but just enough to loose sculpey transcluency - i find easier to work with green or gray mixture than sculpey skin tone. That's the only reason.
Eckihm, if you have any free time I would be very interested in your baking instruction. You are exactly right the head getting mushed. I don't know if it's just because it's my first sculpt or what, but my head keeps rounding into an alien shape I guess because it's contouring to the way I'm holding it lol. I may have to look into a base or try your baking solution to see if that works! Thanks for your tips!
Pokrad, that's a good idea. I think next time I'm out I'll buy a little package of fimo or premo. Do you use fimo classic or the soft? I think I know what you mean about the transcluency. I absolutely LOVE super sculpey though and wish I hadn't gone through so many other clays to find this one. It's very waxy, so I might try and mix it with something to make it more "creamy" if that makes sense. The waxiness is great for a beginner because I can sculpt and resculpt with so much ease.
Thank you also JoshS for your tips.
Remember this is my first sculpt, but I just wanted to post the picture and how much "smoother" it is for anyone researching clays and looking for help. The super sculpey is great for beginners like me